Correctional officer union members spar with governor

Law enforcement is an inherently dangerous job that many of its workers believe is underappreciated by their employer. This is especially true in New York City where those who work in this and similar types of jobs are consistently in dispute regarding labor relations with the city. When union members disagree over disciplinary procedures and how workers can lose their jobs, it can lead to an extended battle with contentious allegations on both sides. It is in these circumstances that it is essential to have legal assistance.

New York State Correctional Officers and the Police Benevolent Association are in an ongoing dispute with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo over the attempt on the part of the state to raise the amount of power to dispense discipline against officers if they commit crimes while on the job. The final decision on punishment for harassment or abuse against inmates or employees will be placed in the hands of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Commissioner. Currently, independent arbitration is used to dispense discipline. The governor believes that this is a complicated process that takes too long.

For its part, the unions say that arbitration is preferable to the new proposal. Because corrections officers are in such a difficult job, the union wants better policies to reduce the amount of violence and contraband that enters New York prisons. The union is currently working without a contract - it expired several years ago. A separate proposal regarding disciplinary procedures was proposed in 2017, but that too was rejected. Another issue that is being debated is the governor's veto of a bill that was set to give retirement benefits to relatives of corrections officers who died while they were still working and were eligible for retirement. The governor stated that such a decision should not be a law, but as part of a negotiation in a new contract.

One of the main reasons that a union is necessary is to protect its members from overreach on the part of the employer in disciplinary procedures. While the idea of crimes being committed by members is abhorrent, that does not mean that these employees should be subjected to a substantive change in how discipline is handed out. A union is vital to protect its members and the union itself should have advice and guidance from a law firm that is well-versed in labor law and collective bargaining. When there is a union problem, having legal help is a must.

Source: watertowndailytimes.com, "Correctional officers union rejects Cuomo proposal to change disciplinary policy," Brian Molongoski, Feb. 19, 2018

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